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UoL accused of discriminating against disabled students who require extensions

Disabled students could face a £200 deadline extension fee

University of Liverpool has been accused of disadvantaging disabled students by charging extension fees to those requiring extensions, even on medical grounds.

According to a BBC investigation, students could be face a £200 fine should they need to extend a coursework deadline that takes them into the next academic year. The BBC also spoke to a number of students affected by these charges. One claimed she was locked out of her university emails and account after she was unable to pay the fees.

The University charges a £50 fee for students to extend their studies for three months due to extenuating circumstances. Students are charged a further £200 if this goes into the following academic year, even if these circumstances are on medical grounds. Invoices list these charges as "tuition", however one student was told in person that it was an admin charge.

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One student said: "The support has been extremely inconsistent and, at times, just completely not there. I just feel quite marginalised".

Joe McNeill, President of the University of Liverpool's University and College Union condemned the "appalling, discriminatory treatment", saying: "Our students stand with us in our fights and we will stand with them in theirs.

"Solidarity to all students dealing with this awful behaviour. We will be raising this."

Under the 2010 Equality Act, the University has a responsibility to ensure disabled students are given the same amount of access to education and resources as non-disabled students are.

Postgrad student Felicity told The Victoria Derbyshire show she provided the University with medical evidence to secure additional time for her studies. The University charged her a total of £250 for extensions. She said: "I've not extended my studies because I want to have some more time to do my work. It's because I need it.

"It's the one thing that would have made my life easier, given all the health problems I've got.

"I'm trying my hardest to finish my work as it is – which has been pretty difficult."

UoL claimed Felicity had previously "received a number of short-term coursework extensions as reasonable adjustments", and said she was not registered as a disabled student with the uni.

Last month, a Freedom of Information request made by The Liverpool Tab revealed 77 per cent of of UoL buildings are unsafe for disabled students.

Nana, a wheelchair user, claimed she had been scheduled to attend classes in inaccessible rooms "five or six times". She said accessibility was frequently a struggle, and frosted glass in lecture theatres prevented her from seeing her lecturer.

According to the Victoria Derbyshire show, the University has said it is reviewing their deadline extension policy. The University has also apologised for scheduling lectures in inaccessible rooms and have removed the frosted glass that prevented Nana from even being able to see her lecturer.